Revisiting My Anti-Tech Resolutions

I'm going to start by congratulating myself. I have stuck with some of my original Anti-Tech Resolutions longer than I have ever stuck with a resolution in the past. Before I get specific about my progress with each of my original goals, I'll say that the first thing I learned about keeping a resolution is that it is much easier to vow NOT to do something than it is to promise yourself you WILL do something. Maybe that's a lesson I will take into any resolutions I make of a non-technical nature. Instead of vowing to lose weight, I will vow to not drink sugary soda. Instead of vowing to go to the gym, I will vow to not go to the gym.I can already see the flaws in my plan.[Image credit: Grant Hutchinson]

In any case, my original Anti-Tech Resolutions were made to encourage more personal interaction between myself and others, and to try to free myself from the cables and bonds than bind me to my gadgets. Here is how things have worked out so far:

1. Call Instead of Text

For the most part, I have to admit this was a failure. I can accept that. I do call people plenty, but there are some times when texting is more appropriate. When I originally wrote my resolutions, I was in a completely different place in my life, literally and figuratively. I was working at home in a house where I lived with my wife. Now I'm working in a corporate office and living in an apartment with my dog. I was unable to escape the great state of Texas, but otherwise things have changed dramatically.

There are now plenty of times when it is inappropriate or impossible for me to make a phone call. At the office, I would rather exchange a few quick text messages, or carry on an IM chat in the periphery while I am also getting work done, than make a personal phone call from my cubicle. I am mostly able to avoid corporate meetings, but when I do attend, texting is the only appropriate way to get in touch with someone on the outside world.

I would like to have more vocal talking time with my sister in Amsterdam, but the time zones create a conundrum. It's hard for me to make time to call her before work, when it is her afternoon. By the time I leave work, it is after midnight in the Netherlands. If I want to keep in touch with her, the best time is during the day, perhaps on my lunch break, but from my desk I still would rather text than talk, or stand outside talking in the 106 degree Texas summer heat.

2. No More Happy Birthdays On Facebook

At this resolution, I have been entirely successful. I also hate it. It seems stupid now. It seems rude and anti-social. There has not been one single instance where I have seen someone's birthday on Facebook and, remembering my resolution, called them instead of typing out a quick message. I have a perfect track record of not wishing my friends Happy Birthday on Facebook, but I also have a perfect track record of not wishing my friends Happy Birthday.

[aquote]I felt like such a tool. I was a stubborn idiot[/aquote]

I can tell you the exact moment I changed my mind on this. I have an old college buddy who joined Facebook only recently. I still don't understand these hold-outs. Nobody is forcing you to do anything on Facebook. It's like having your phone number in the phone book, except that you can pick and choose who gets to see it. Why hold out? Oh well, that's a column for another time.

So, my friend Jeff recently joined Facebook, and shortly thereafter celebrated his birthday. I, of course, did not wish him any joy or happiness, nor did I call him to offer a kind word or sentiment. I just ignored it. I thought to myself, "I should wish Jeff a happy birthday, but I did make that resolution."

The next day, Jeff posted a message that said something like: "After my first birthday on Facebook, I finally understand the appeal. Thank you all for your kind messages and birthday wishes."

I felt like such a tool. I was a stubborn idiot. It ends now. I'm going to flip-flop my resolution entirely. Now, instead of wishing nobody a happy birthday on Facebook, I am going to try to wish EVERYBODY a happy birthday on Facebook. I will be more conscientious about looking at the birthday calendar on my wall and leaving a birthday note for my friends. Having pared down my friend list to only people I find interesting in some way, I feel good about this reversal.

3. Don't Ever Use the Phone at the Dinner Table

Success! I'm giving myself a ton of credit for this one, because this was very hard. I dine with loads of tech folks, the kind of people who carry on three and a half conversations at once, and if you can see them in person, you're the half. I am happy to say that in more than six months of living with this resolution, I have stuck to it perfectly.

[aquote]My dinner companions knew about my resolution, and they called me on my mistake[/aquote]

Okay, almost. There was one time I broke down. I was in Barcelona. It was Valentine's Day. I had ordered flowers for my wife to be delivered at her office, and I found out just before dinner that they were stuck in the mail room. If I didn't call to straighten this out, she would not have gotten them. So, without thinking, I made the call. My dinner companions knew about my resolution, as I had the habit of bragging about it at the end of every dinner, and they called me on my mistake. The punch line? We decided to get divorced less than a month later. I should have let the flowers wither and die.

I am happy with this resolution, and I will keep it up through the rest of the year, and probably longer. When people near me are on their cell phones, I find someone else at the table to talk to. Often that is someone to whom I do not speak as often. I made new friends this way, and learned more about people I did not know as well. Usually, these were people who had just checked their email 3 minutes ago, and so they would not feel the itch to check again for another 2 minutes. Whatever. When they pulled out their phones, I simply moved on to the next person. It was rare that I was the only one at the table without my phone in front of me, and when I was, I always found an opportunity to mention this resolution again.

4. See the 2D Version Instead of the 3D

Nope, I failed miserably at this one. There has only been one instance in which I saw the 2D version of a film while the 3D version was still playing in the same theater. That was the second time I saw Cars 2. I know, I panned that movie in my recent review here on SlashGear, but I have been wanting to take my son to his first movie, and this was the best fit. He's already familiar with the characters, and even bad Pixar is better than the worst children's movies around. So, I went the first time to screen the movie, to make sure it wouldn't freak him out too badly. Then, when I took him a week later, we did not go to the 3D version.

The 3D version was being shown in the XD theater, which is Cinemark's brand of IMAX-like big-picture / booming-sound auditorium. The 2D version was being shown in a tiny little hole in the wall. The last theater at the end of the hall. It would be much easier to keep this resolution if 2D movies got the same respect that 3D movies got. But, of course, there is far more money to be made in higher-priced 3D tickets, so those movies will always command the larger screen.

I have to say that in even the worst examples of 3D movies , it was never the 3D that bothered me. I would like to think that my nifty Oakley 3D Gascan glasses, with the Tron-blue trim, helped, but that's probably because I spent more than $100 on those stupid glasses and I have to justify the price to myself somehow.

5. Use My Gadgets to Do Things More Than I Do Things On My Gadgets

Okay, my job is testing and playing with gadgets, so it's hard to imagine how I could possibly keep this resolution. But really, this resolution was about one goal: keeping myself from buying a 3D TV. And a new gaming system. And a new home theater set-up. In that respect, it worked, and barely. I have found myself staring at the checkout screen at Amazon, ready to pull the trigger on a 55", LED, 240Hz 3D TV, when I remember this resolution and find my resolve again. I was ready to pounce on the Nintendo 3DS out of sheer curiosity. If I didn't work for a major competitor (disclosure: Samsung Mobile), I would have been curious about the PlayStation phone, though the lack of interesting games would have still kept me away.

I still have some gadgets I might buy. I have my eye on a new watch, but it's not a phone watch or a Bluetooth accessory. I'd like a watch that records your heart rate, and tracks you using GPS. I've been seeing a personal trainer, and this would actually be a useful product. In fact, it fits perfectly with my original goal. So, besides my work gadgets, I count this resolution as a success. But I won't beat myself up if I fail. After all, those 3D TVs are getting pretty cheap, even for the really big ones.